A couple of years ago, I found myself in an argument with my father about the local and “organic” meat I had purchased. In his defense, he uttered “but all food is organic!” Unfortunately, the definition of organic has changed during my father’s lifetime. Much the same, eating local has also evolved.
Over the last century, we’ve seen the food industry completely change. We’ve modified our food supply to solve the scarcity problem of the past to meet the demands of a booming global population. At the time, it was called innovative. It was called humanitarian. We believed it saved lives.
But the truth is, the science behind it was a short-term solution for a long-term goal. The chemicals that made plants strong have made our bodies weak. The preservatives that extend the shelf life of our products have shortened our own lives.
We’ve been told it’s either abundance or health. Humanity had to choose one.
But the “farm-to-table” movement tells us this doesn’t have to be our story. That our story is one of hope, and they have been telling us this for decades. Restaurants and stores started valuing quality over ease and convenience thus emphasizing the purchase of locally sourced and seasonal products. The trend continues to increase when we, the consumer, participate with our personal choices.
Kansas City has a strong loyalty to buying and eating local—many restaurants buy local produce, farmers markets abound and organizations like Cultivate Kansas City, Kansas City Food Circle and KC Healthy Kids are improving access to fresh foods. With all our efforts, we can cultivate our city for better health and be a vibrant “local roots” community.
“Everyone has the right to good food. They should have the right to food they can afford, the right to food that fits their culture and the right to food that is grown with love and care. And it is especially important to have food that is grown by someone that you know,” Cultivate Kansas City Executive Director Katherine Kelly says.
Eric Carter, executive chef at The J Bar, prepared a delicious four-course farm-to-table dinner using local purveyor Shatto Farms, which is a small family-owned and operated dairy farm located just north of the Kansas City metropolitan area. Shatto expanded their home delivery service to include not only dairy but also meat, eggs, produce, bread and more, and they provide only the best in locally sourced food.
Carter served a local lettuce salad with roasted beets and local goat cheese with Tank 7 Vinaigrette, herb roast campo lindo chicken with Shatto garlic butter and local grapevine-smoked beef tri-tip with rosemary and caramelized onion. He rounded the meal off with a delectable local bourbon-glazed apple tart topped with salted caramel ice cream.
“My food is usually focused upon modern interpretations of Midwestern heritage cuisine,” Carter says.
Carter’s go-to spices are fennel, coriander and smoked paprika. He advises trying herbs seasonally and says it is best to pair the milder flavored herbs with lighter proteins and the more forceful herbs like rosemary with heavy proteins and flavors.
“Food was always a central part of my family growing up,” Carter says. “Whether it was grilling with my grandfather, making pies with my grandma or growing a garden with my parents, food always brought everyone together.”
Steak Rub For Grapevine-Smoked Tri-Tip
3 parts brown sugar
3 parts smoked sea salt
1 part smoked paprika
1/2 part coriander
1/2 part chili powder
1/4 part cayenne
1/4 part dried thyme
1/2 part cracked pepper
Directions: Mix all spices and apply liberally to the tri-tip. Allow to rest in refrigerator for 24 hours before smoking over grapevines.
- 12-inch pie crusts
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups chopped peeled apples
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Heat oven to 400º F.
- Mix 1/2 cup sugar and the flour in large bowl. Stir in apples. The sugar-flour mixture will not all stick to the apples; that’s OK.
- Spread the apple mixture uniformly from the center of the dough circle to within 2 inches of edge. Fold edge of dough over apple mixture; crimp edge of dough slightly.
- Mix 2 tablespoons sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon; sprinkle over apples and dough.
- Cut 1 tablespoon butter into 5 or 6 small pieces; spread on top of the apples.
- Bake 27 to 32 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
- Cut into wedges. Serve warm drizzled with caramel topping.
Eric Carter is the executive chef at The J Bar located at Embassy Suites By Hilton, 10401 S. Ridgeview Road, Olathe.
Check out Shatto Milk Company at ShattoHomeDelivery.com and support a local farmer.